Thursday, January 3, 2013

Successful Blogging 101 - Treat Your Blog Like a Business

When I started my first blog in 2008, I was 18 years old. I didn't start the blog for any purpose other than the fact that I loved to write. The blog was about my passion at the time, which was beauty products, tips, and advice. I wasn't seriously looking to make any cash. All I wanted was to reach out to others and help them make informed decisions regarding beauty products.

About four years later, my passions changed. Writing became my passion and I started researching ways to cash in on my hobby. I started earning cash through various writing outlets and I wanted to help others make money too. At this point, I decided that I wanted to create a blog to help others make money. That's when I created Freelance Lady. It wasn't until recently that I created a monetary goal. When I did that, my whole mind frame changed.

When I was blogging for fun, it was casual and I wrote when I wanted to. When I decided to cash in on my blog, I started treating it like a job. It wasn't always fun. It wasn't always what I wanted to do, but I really devoted myself to Freelance Lady. Of course, there are times that I've wanted to quit and I have taken quite a few breaks, but all in all, I've kept on trucking.

Like any business, you're going to see failure. You're going to see glimmers of hope. You're going to live and learn, in other words. The most important thing to remember, however, is that you can learn more from how you fail than how you succeed.

So, how does one treat his or her blog like a business? Read on to find out.

How to Treat Your Blog Like a Business

Accept and recognize the fact that your blog is your business. Your success depends on your power, your energy, and your desire to make things happen.

Start planning. The backbone of a business starts with a business plan, right? You need to set goals for yourself. Know, in detail, what you're trying to do. Are you building a blog on local attractions and events in your city? If so, what places do you need to visit and write about? What do people want to know about these places? Who should you interview? Who will be your target audience? How will you create traffic? You need to know the answers of these questions before jumping in.

Use your plans to take action. Write down exactly what you must do. For example, if your blog is about local attractions in Dayton, Ohio, make a list of the venues and places you must visit and get to work. Write about the atmosphere, the crowd, the activities, and anything else that readers will find relevant. Interview visitors, read what the local paper is saying, or research the history of the area. Finally, find out what blogs share your niche and try to work with the blog owners to build backlinks and gain exposure. Post advertisements for your blog in local coffee shops or small businesses (with the permission of the owner, of course).

Make a few investments. Branding is very important, if not one of the most important parts of a blog's success. There are literally thousands upon thousands of blogs out there, and chances are, you're not the only one in your niche. You must find a way to set yourself apart from the crowd. The best way to do this is by purchasing your own memorable and relevant domain name. Sure, it costs real money, but it's necessary. Secondly, you should invest in a high-quality, easy-to-navigate template to match the voice and niche of your blog. Finally, you'll need a defined logo. Eventually, this logo will become the centerpiece for business cards, letterheads, and e-mails. You don't have to spend as if the end is near. Simplicity is key.

Get organized. Before you start pumping out content, you need to make sure that your blog layout is easy to navigate with clear categories and archives. People have shorter attention spans these days, so a cluttered page might cause potential loyal readers to race off to the next site. Simple templates that are easy on the eye instill confidence in your readers as well as future advertisers and/or blogging partners. Exude a professional outward appearance and let it pay off.

Write, write, write! Pump out high-quality, relevant content every single day. Of course, it's okay to miss a day here and there, but for the most part, you should blog daily, if not more than once a day. The best way to keep it up is by setting a schedule or getting into a routine. For example, you could set aside an hour a day for creating blog posts, or you could simply write a blog post or two every morning after making your coffee. It doesn't have to be set in stone, it just needs to become a routine.

Be accurate and reliable. Don't post something just because you read it on a friend's Facebook page. Always fact check. Always cite sources. Always proofread. Realize that not everything you read or see is exactly as it seems. Increase your credibility by always posting accurate information. And if you promise to deliver something, you better keep your word!  Remaining professional is crucial to your success. Create a connection and leave an impression on your readers.

More Helpful Blogging Tips

Try to remain focused on your blog. If during your scheduled "blogging time" you find yourself surfing the Internet, checking your Facebook page, or heading to the kitchen for a bite to eat, you need to find a way to eliminate those distractions. Back in the day, my house would never be cleaner than when it was when I had an article to write. It took me awhile to realize that I was procrastinating, so I did what worked for me. I cleaned before my writing time. You might have to get your coffee before you sit down to write, you might have to log out of Facebook and turn off any mobile notifications (or completely block the site until you're finished working), or eat before you work. If you must, wear a rubber band on your wrist and snap it every time you get off task.

Don't overthink. Blogging shouldn't stress you out. You shouldn't feel frazzled and annoyed each time you sit down to write. It's not like you're an aeronautical engineer. Simply create high-quality, useful and original content and post it.

Track your success. Google Analytics can help you see how your blog is doing. Not only will this help you to create more detailed traffic goals, but it also acts as a great motivator when the traffic does start pouring in.

Promote your blog. It's one thing to create a blog, but it's another thing to get people to read it. Tell the world about your new site. Utilize the power of social networking. Create a Facebook and Twitter page for your blog. Link to your blog on LinkedIn. Share all of your posts on Google +. Explore sites like StumbleUpon, Tumblr, and Digg.

Don't be afraid to reward yourself. If, for an entire month, you meet all of your goals, treat yourself to a break from the blog for a day, or buy something that you like. However, if you're going to offer incentives, you need to be prepared to offer disincentives as well. For example, if you fail to meet your deadlines, increase daily postings to two instead of one. You must implement structure into your blogging business.

Becoming a successful blogger takes hard work and dedication. Unfortunately, many who decide to get into blogging believe that it's a cut and dry process. That is simply not the case. You can't create a blog, write a few posts, and expect the traffic to come rushing in---unless, of course, you're already a well-established celebrity. Knowing and accepting the methods and techniques to a successful blogging business could make all the difference in your career as a blogger.

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